Student musicians may seem few and far between on campus, but this weekend a group of four will come together for a show featuring a diverse range of acts.
Singer-songwriters Marianne Khattar and Michael Ferrier, and student bands Smith Gardens and The Standard Issue will all perform together at a showcase Friday at The Pinch. The show will be hosted by Searcher Records, GW’s first student-run music label launched in 2015.
The four acts will each have their own 30-minute set starting at 8 p.m., and in between performances, student DJ Bible Belt will man the DJ booth for 10 minute intervals. The genres will switch from surfer rock to R&B, pop and soul with each artists. Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for general admission.
Khattar, a junior majoring in music and communication, will perform a set Friday that takes from all kinds of music, singing jazz-influenced R&B and soul. She became involved with Searcher Records when she opened for one of their showcases, and soon she became a key part of the student organization. Through Searcher Records, she said she connected with the other student music groups on campus that widen her perspective.
“It’s not really the access to the gigs, it’s really the access to performing with different people from very different types of bands, grades and majors that all have the same love of music,” Khattar said.
Khattar said because GW is a school that focuses heavily on politics, the music scene on campus is underrated.
“There are so many people at this school that don’t even realize there are really talented student performers with shows all the time, all over campus,” Khattar said. “I think that we’re a very political science heavy school, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we also have extremely creative and musically talented people that are going to go far in the music industry.”
Khattar recently sang background vocals, alongside her friend and musical partner Michael Ferrier, for rapper and GW alumnus Cautious Clay during an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
“It was a pretty surreal experience,” she said.
Looking forward, Khattar said she intends on going “full-send” on pursuing a career in music.
“I know it sounds stupid to some people, but I am definitely going to put my all into the music industry,” she said. “That’s not to say I want to ‘make it,’ I don’t like that ‘make it’ mentality. I just want to make good music. I want to make music that people haven’t heard before, that no one’s ever made, and I want to make a living off of doing that – that’s all I really want.”
Zach Blankstein, a sophomore majoring in music and communication, is another student playing Friday who hopes his band, The Standard Issue, will cross into success just a year after forming. Blankstein plays guitar in a four-person ensemble alongside two other students who study jazz. The funk and R&B quartet has an affinity for blending “tight musicianship” with pop melodic elements, he said.
“Musically it’s very sophisticated and fun for us to play and challenging for us to play, but you can still listen to it and dance to it, and sing along to it.”
With Friday’s concert and a holiday show scheduled at the Velvet Lounge Tuesday, Blankstein said The Standard Issue is practicing every day in preparation. On top of playing shows and studying music, the band is in the middle of recording an album. He said although he gets frustrated about how the music department is “undersupported and underfunded,” but his band is making the most of “limited resources.”
“Our chemistry really speaks for itself, and people will see that when we’re on stage,” he said. “The four of us are best friends who just spend most nights together crammed in a small room working on music.”
Blankstein said he also feels very close to fellow musicians, Khattar and Ferrier, and they often support each other on billings for shows around the city. Sometimes Ferrier will rap to the band’s set, and the band has also accompanied him on stage during his performances.
“We just want to see each other succeed, and we know if something takes off for any of us we’re gonna be there to share the wealth with each other,” Blankstein said. “It’s a very positive environment to be a part of, and that goes for the entire Searcher community at large too.”